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Lancing devices are critical tools for obtaining blood samples for glucose measurement. While good diabetes management requires frequent blood testing, the pain and inconvenience involved in lancing can prevent a person with diabetes from undertaking the appropriate number of daily blood glucose tests.
Today, there are many different lancing devices available. Understanding what to look for can help you to choose the device that is best for you.
Selecting a Lancing Device
A common practice in selecting a lancing system is to rely on the device that comes with a particular blood glucose meter. This is like using an inferior razor simply because it came with your favorite shaving cream.
You should instead review lancing devices independently of meters in order to select the one best suited to your specific needs.
In doing so, consider these three key criteria:
“People with diabetes are often advised to check their blood glucose several times per day,” says Jeff Hitchcock, president of the organization Children With Diabetes.
“Based on our most recent poll data, kids with diabetes are testing on average more than six times per day,” says Hitchcock. “Therefore, it is important that lancing systems be as simple and easy to use as possible.”
To this end, the devices should require the fewest possible number of steps for lancing in order to provide the best user experience. For example, the priming and firing of the lancing device should be simple. Some devices require two-handed operation to pull back the cocking mechanism, while others simplify the process to one-handed operation with the press of a button—just like a ballpoint pen.
The next generation of devices will offer the added convenience of multiple self-contained lancets in a cartridge, thus eliminating the need for loading and unloading a new or used lancet.
Many people with diabetes acknowledge that callused fingers and frequent doses of sharp pain have become a normal part of everyday life. In addition to pain at the moment of lancing, people with diabetes also experience lingering pain and slow healing of the punctured sites.
To help minimize pain, tissue damage and discomfort, choose a device that offers a smooth, well-controlled stick. Today, spring-driven devices with cam guidance tend to offer smoother control than those with linear guidance.
Lancing to the right depth is another key consideration. A lancet should pierce the skin only to the depth necessary to get an adequate amount of blood. Lancing too deep causes increased pain, while not lancing deep enough requires re-lancing. For now, the best option is a device that features multiple depth settings. While these devices offer improvements over those lacking this feature, they often prove unreliable in reaching the intended depth. To compensate, the user dials the depth setting deeper than necessary to prevent having to re-lance.
Tomorrow’s third-generation devices will offer enhanced sophistication to ensure near 100 percent reliability in depth accuracy.
The need to load and remove lancets for each individual use creates issues of safety, particularly for children.
The safest products available today are those that allow safe ejection of the used lancet without handling. However, even some devices with an ejection mechanism do not work when used with hollow-back lancets. This problem will eventually be resolved with the advent of self-contained lancets in one disposable cartridge or disk.
The Future of Lancing Devices
The future of lancing promises the introduction of several enhanced devices that further improve the lancing experience.
One of these systems will be the Accu-Chek MultiClix. This cam-driven lancing device integrates a six-lancet cartridge, eliminating the need to eject and replace a lancet after each test.
Additionally, in the near future, expect electronically controlled lancing systems.
The Pelikan Sun system is one such device that is currently under development by Pelikan Technologies Inc. of Palo Alto, California. The Pelikan Sun system utilizes technology controlled by an electronic drive mechanism known as Smart Lancing. Working together, these components quickly and precisely drive each lancet at an individually controlled speed to the exact intended depth while minimizing unnecessary vibrations.
According to Pelikan Technologies, the Pelikan Sun system will have 30 depth settings. In addition, due to the system’s strict control over every aspect of the lance, pain will be reduced.
The Pelikan Sun lancing device will also integrate 50 sterile lancets into one small disposable disk, eliminating the need to handle, load and unload exposed lancets.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.